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United Way VP chosen as Safe and Sober director

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Jill Finney, vice president of communications and volunteers for United Way of the Ozarks, was hired to a new gig.

Finney on Jan. 2 is scheduled to become executive director of nonprofit Safe and Sober Inc., according to a news release. She succeeds five-year leader Mackenzie Hernandez, who exited to work in corporate communications at Bass Pro Shops.

“Jill has the talent, experience and strengths to lead Safe and Sober into the future. We plan to grow the footprint of our organization and Jill’s previous successes in operations, leadership and fundraising makes her a perfect fit,” Safe and Sober founder and board Chairman Kurt Larson said in the release. “Jill approaches everything she does with commitment and enthusiasm, and I am confident our current program partners, donors and sponsors will enjoy working with her.”

Finney has worked at United Way for three years, and before that, was the city of Nixa’s director of communications for nearly six years, according to her LinkedIn profile. Her 17-year career has been spent mostly in the nonprofit and public sectors, according to the release.

At Safe and Sober, she’ll be tasked with leading an organization that works with youth to educate them about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

Safe and Sober Program Director Whitney Mann said the group has an operational budget of $550,000 annually.

Larson, a trial attorney, founded Safe and Sober in 2004. During the 2018-19 academic year, the program reached 506 Missouri high schools and over 170,000 students, according to its website.

At United Way, Finney said CEO Greg Burris is putting on hold plans to fill the vice president of communications and volunteers role as the board works through a “reinventing” of the organization.


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